Ever since their full-length debut Up to Here in 1989, The Tragically Hip had their sights set on conquering their native Canada. By the mid-90’s they had achieved that goal, thanks largely to the album Fully, Completely. But from there on, the Hip seemed to rest on their laurels, as if they weren’t sure what their next step should be. On World Container, the band’s 10th full-length album, they now seem to have their sights on the world.
Crisply produced by Bob Rock, World Container is their strongest set of songs in 10 years. The band expands on their barroom rock, adding subtle keyboard textures on the likes of first single “In View”, and the Police-like tone on “The Lonely End of the Rink”. As well, singer Gord Downie sounds reinvigorated and brimming with life on tracks like “Luv (sic)” and “The Kids Don’t Get It”, sounding as if he can barely keep the words in; his voice and his quirky, literate lyrics make this album addictive.
There are other nice subtleties too, “The Kids Don’t Get It” and the following “Pretend” begin with the same line, and both go in different directions. And it’s a testament to Downie’s lyrical prowess and vocal skills that can make something seemingly pretentious work.
But World Container isn’t just Downie’s album. The rest of the band sounds great too, like on the aforementioned “The Lonely End of the Rink” and the stellar “Family Band”, they sound tighter and more alive than they have in years. And too, with “In View” the Hip have come up with a bona fide pop gem.
More than 20 years in, the Hip has honed their talents and can make such a great rock record with such ease. In the song “Family Band” Downie sings, “One day I’ll make some honest rock n’ roll”, a modest man, he and his cohorts have already done so with World Container.